How to…straighten wide, bell bottom or bootcut pants

Straightening pants is pretty easy and can be done in 10-minute chunks. I have a bunch of cords and jeans that flare into boot-cut bottoms and they fit well up top; they just don’t feel cool anymore. Here’s how to un-bell bottoms into straight legs like this:


1. Put the pants on and figure out where you want the straightening to begin. If they’re belled or boot cut, it’s usually around the knee. Mark the spot with a pin.


2. Flip pants inside out. Pick out the hem. Don’t be lazy now; your work will go smoother and look more professional in the end.


3. With a ruler and chalk/pencil, draw straight lines down to the hem from the pin mark. ***If you’re doing jeans, one seam probably will be topstitched. Deal with the seam that isn’t.


4. Pin the pants at the chalk lines and sew. Trim the edges and finish them as you like. With heavy fabrics, I do two seam lines then serge, but a wide zig zag will secure the edges, too.


5. Mark and pin up the hem. Stitch it as you like. On cords and jeans, I like a straight top seam all the way around.

In the works is a how-to on how to insert zippers into the bottoms of *really* skinny jeans. You remember.

    • lofsfaith
    • November 11th, 2008

    Hi fitzfabulous, I am trying the bell bottom to straight leg pants instructions and have a question. On my inside seam there is extra material that extends pass the seam, do I just sew that as is or what?

  1. Extra material? Like a few inches after you’ve sewn the seam? Or at the bottom of the leg?

  2. Useful post! Thanks for the excellent tip and pictures. :)

  3. should i take just one side of the pant leg in or on both seams of the bell?

    • I think I did just one side. You could try a second one.

      • Right, the problem with the second side of jeans is that usually one side is topstitched. That side is hard to do. Stick with the other side that just has a normal seam.

    • karen
    • January 16th, 2015

    Should I trim on the outer or the inner side of the pants?

    • Trim the side of the pants that isn’t flat-felled or topstitched in light jeans thread.

  1. March 4th, 2008
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